Amesfrane: a cathedral-shaped rock in Morocco

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Distinguished by fluted pilasters that rise towards the sky for a few hundred meters above the river, the huge yellow-gray and gray mass of the Amesfrane rock recalls the shape of a cathedral with enormous proportions.


Naturalistic aspect

In the mountain landscape with trees of the central High Atlas, a rock of impressive size suddenly appears, having a shape similar to that of a church dominated by a bell tower, a characteristic from which the nickname of the cathedral derived, given to it by the first travelers who discovered it .

Through the path it is possible to reach the roof of the nave, but to get to the top of the bell tower the path on the bare rock becomes difficult.


At various points, where there was no passage, some bundles were placed to make temporary bridges of doubtful resistance.

Once you reach the summit at 1870 meters, you discover that the effort due to the ascent is rewarded by the vision of a large landscape that ranges up to the cliffs of the upper Ahancal.

If the general appearance is reminiscent of a man-made construction, the walls seen from close up reinforce this impression.


In fact, they consist of protruding layers of various thickness, similar to a rustication where the alignments are repeated countless times and are separated by horizontal grooves.

Between gray protrusions and yellow ocher indents, more vivid patches of colors stand out, indicating the point where a boulder has recently detached, also long vertical cracks highlight gigantic pillars.

This place is useful for reconstructing the history of the central High Atlas.


In fact, while the latter rose and deformed, in the Miocene and Pliocene, streams gathered pebbles and mud in that basin, which later consolidated into pudding.

During a new tectonic phase, the rivers affected both the mass of the conglomerates and the adjacent mountains.

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The puddings were washed out where they were less resistant, while those placed at the bottom of the basin, strongly consolidated, were preserved, going to make up the mass of Amesfrane.

Southwest of the Bin el Ouidane barrier, the track between Ouaouizaght and Zawuat-Ahancal, where it climbs serpentine along the other side of the river, offers the best view of the cathedral in the rock.

Except for the rainy winter months, the Amesfrane cathedral is always accessible.

A guide is recommended for those wishing to attempt a climb to the summit, as it is necessary to abandon the track to venture on a path where mountaineering experience and good knowledge of the place are required.

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